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Research Area B


In the focus of Research Area B are the different types of interstitial cells, the physiological functions of these cells and their relevance for adaptation and regeneration on the one hand and for inflammatory processes, transplant rejection, tubular atrophy, and interstitial fibrosis on the other hand.


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Project B1

(Patho-) physiology of resident PDGFRβ+ interstitial cells in the kidney

Prof. Dr. Armin Kurtz
Universität Regensburg

Prof. Dr. Charlotte Wagner
Universität Regensburg

A major cell population of the renal interstitium consists of resident cells expressing the β-type receptor for platelet-derived growth factor (PDGFRβ). Although highly abundant, these cells are not yet well characterized. This project aims to characterize the pool of renal PDGFRβ+ cells according to subpopulations. We will explore the structural and functional subpopulations, major signaling pathways as well as the relevance of PDGFRβ+ cells for normal kidney function, renal development, and progression of kidney diseases. The expected results can help to establish new concepts of how the modulation of resident interstitial cells could be a strategy to slow down the progression of kidney diseases.

Project B2

Assessment of the structure and function of the renal interstitium by intravital multiphoton microscopy

Prof. Dr. Hayo Castrop
Universität Regensburg

Dr. Ina Schießl
Universität Regensburg

Little is known about the physiology of the renal interstitial compartment and how it might interfere with tubular and vascular functions. This project will address these questions using serial intravital multiphoton microscopy, which will allow us to visualize the dynamic changes of the composition of renal interstitial cells in real time and to study interstitial-tubular/vascular communication and its effect on renal function. Our previous findings indicate that interstitial cells are motile. In the context of a potential renal interstitial stem cell nice, we will further clarify the role of interstitial cell mobility in renal regeneration.

Project B3

Fibronectin and its role in polycystic kidney diseases

Prof. Dr. Ernst Tamm
Anatomy and Embryology
Universität Regensburg

PD Dr. Björn Buchholz
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

The project will investigate the question if the glycoprotein fibronectin, an extracellular matrix constituent, plays an essential role for the prevention of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This hypothesis is based on preliminary findings indicating that the induced deletion of fibronectin in newborn mice results in the formation of corticomedullary kidney cysts and the loss of kidney integrity and function. We will characterize the molecular mechanisms that lead to cyst formation following fibronectin deletion in the mouse and expect that the findings will contribute to our understanding of the molecular pathogenetic events that are behind PKD in humans.

Project B4

Relevance of inflammation and fibrosis for renal regeneration

Prof. Dr. Matthias Mack
Universität Regensburg

Kidneys have an impressive, yet incomplete capability to regenerate after acute insults. The aim of our project is to better understand how the immune response and specific subsets of inflammatory cells as well as specific “types” of fibrosis generated by different types of collagen-producing cells support or impede regeneration of renal structures, recovery of renal function, and regression of fibrosis. We will use reversible unilateral ureteral obstruction and adenine feeding to model acute renal insults and to follow regeneration.

Project B5

Role of prolyl-hydroxylase domain enzyme inhibitors in chronic renal inflammation

Prof. Dr. Jonathan Jantsch
Medical Microbiology
Universität Regensburg

Prof. Dr. Carsten Willam
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Inhibition of prolyl hydroxylase domain enzymes (PHDi) protects mice in a model of chronic tubulointerstitial inflammasome-dependent kidney disease. PHDi-mediated protection required the presence of mononuclear phagocytes. Moreover, PHDi blocked caspase-1-dependent IL-1β release in mononuclear phagocytes. In order to test whether PHDi in mononuclear phagocytes ameliorates chronic nephritis we will characterize and analyze the contribution of subsets of mononuclear phagocytes in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory kidney diseases and their role in PHDi-mediated protection. Moreover, we will decipher how PHDi-treatment impairs IL-1β release in mononuclear phagocytes.

Project B6

Relevance of immigrating B-lymphocytes and their functional properties for the development of allograft nephropathy

PD Dr. Tobias Bergler
Universität Regensburg

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Banas
Universität Regensburg

Prof. Dr. Edward Geissler
Experimental Surgery
Universität Regensburg

Chronic antibody-mediated allograft rejection (ABMR) is still a main cause for the high rate of graft loss after kidney transplantation. We will study the relevance of graft-infiltrating B-lymphocytes during ABMR and the molecular mechanisms and signals involved. Our experiments will be performed using a well-established experimental transplantation model in rats and will be validated by studying human allograft biopsies. The expected results will help understand the mechanisms of ABMR and develop a new approach to the long-term suppression of donor-specific antibody formation, which could lead to a new strategy for the treatment of chronic allograft failure.



"Interdisciplinary kidney research to advance understanding of disease mechanisms and develop new therapeutic concepts"


Nierenzentrum REN

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Dr. Michaela Kritzenberger
Tel.: ++49 (0)941/943-2885
Fax: ++49 (0)941/943-2896